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A Clip Here, a Snip There: World Spay Day Is February 24

Best Friends Feral Cat MafiaFebruary is National Spay / Neuter Month, and today is World Spay Day!

We’ve called this “The Year of the Clipping and Snipping” for our neighborhood strays and abandoned cats… Having recently relocated to a large city, we were immediately struck with the number of roaming hungry mouths, right outside our door. Of course, feeding them and providing shelter is easy enough — their spirits are unbelievably beautiful — but after repeated litters immediately upon our arrival, we knew we had to become quickly proactive with TNR (Trap-Neuter-Return). I was actively TNRing in my old home — always abandoned animals from foreclosed homes — but being in the city is an entirely different affair. We’re up to 10 spayed and neutered kitties now, and we’re not done. Nor do we feel like criminals for trying to help the stray populations (I’m looking at you, certain very large counties in Florida) — Hoorah!

litter

We’re lucky to live in a city where the Best Friends Animal Society  provides a grant, for spaying and neutering. Not only does the city proper take an active effort with TNR (instead of rounding animals up for the kill-shelter); there’s even a paid associate to assist should you need it. We had already bought a cage, but she’s been exceptionally helpful with transporting the kitties, and giving them a place to recuperate from the surgeries. Read more about the Best Friends grant program here.

"Itty Bitty" — Expected another round of food

“Itty Bitty” — One of our 10 successful TNRs (and one of 2 possible adoptions), expecting another round of food

World Spay Day

Save a Life - Spay and NeuterWE humans domesticated cats and dogs, to help us in more ways than ever imagined. It’s OUR responsibility to help them, whenever possible. The facts are brutal, as are the lives of these sweet and beautiful strays, ferals, and abandoned animals. As difficult as it may be to look at, it’s even harder to look away. There’s so much to do — feeding and sheltering your local critters, donating to local shelters, adopting, fostering… The list is never-ending!

"Samuel Beckett" — Dropped off at our local bookstore, and adopted by the kind folks there

“Samuel Beckett” — Abandoned at our local bookstore, and adopted by the kind folks there. Here with his surrogate bunny-momma

Top 10 Reasons to Spay or Neuter Your Pet, from the ASPCA:

  1. Your female pet will live a longer, healthier life.
    Spaying helps prevent uterine infections and breast cancer, which is fatal in about 50 percent of dogs and 90 percent of cats. Spaying your pet before her first heat offers the best protection from these diseases.
  2. Neutering provides major health benefits for your male.
    Besides preventing unwanted litters, neutering your male companion prevents testicular cancer, if done before six months of age.
  3. Your spayed female won’t go into heat.
    While cycles can vary, female felines usually go into heat four to five days every three weeks during breeding season. In an effort to advertise for mates, they’ll yowl and urinate more frequently—sometimes all over the house!
  4. Your male dog won’t want to roam away from home.
    An intact male will do just about anything to find a mate! That includes digging his way under the fence and making like Houdini to escape from the house. And once he’s free to roam, he risks injury in traffic and fights with other males.
  5. Your neutered male will be much better behaved.
    Neutered cats and dogs focus their attention on their human families. On the other hand, unneutered dogs and cats may mark their territory by spraying strong-smelling urine all over the house. Many aggression problems can be avoided by early neutering.
  6. Spaying or neutering will NOT make your pet fat.
    Don’t use that old excuse! Lack of exercise and overfeeding will cause your pet to pack on the extra pounds—not neutering. Your pet will remain fit and trim as long as you continue to provide exercise and monitor food intake.
  7. It is highly cost-effective.
    The cost of your pet’s spay/neuter surgery is a lot less than the cost of having and caring for a litter. It also beats the cost of treatment when your unneutered tom escapes and gets into fights with the neighborhood stray!
  8. Spaying and neutering your pet is good for the community.
    Stray animals pose a real problem in many parts of the country. They can prey on wildlife, cause car accidents, damage the local fauna and frighten children. Spaying and neutering packs a powerful punch in reducing the number of animals on the streets.
  9. Your pet doesn’t need to have a litter for your children to learn about the miracle of birth.
    Letting your pet produce offspring you have no intention of keeping is not a good lesson for your children—especially when so many unwanted animals end up in shelters. There are tons of books and videos available to teach your children about birth in a more responsible way.
  10. Spaying and neutering helps fight pet overpopulation.
    Every year, millions of cats and dogs of all ages and breeds are euthanized or suffer as strays. These high numbers are the result of unplanned litters that could have been prevented by spaying or neutering.

TNR InfographicFor More Information:

 

Florida Week for the Animals Returns for a 7th Year

Florida Week for the Animals LogoNot to hurt our humble brethren is our first duty to them, but to stop there is not enough. We have a higher mission — to be of service to them wherever they require it. —St. Francis of Assisi

Never, never be afraid to do what’s right, especially if the well-being of a person or animal is at stake. Society’s punishments are small compared to the wounds we inflict on our soul when we look the other way. ―Martin Luther King, Jr.

St. Francis watches over the critters in the gardens of the Ancient Spanish Monastery in Miami

St. Francis watches over the critters in the gardens of the Ancient Spanish Monastery in Miami

We tend to think animals are lower than us, but all the scientists in the world couldn’t design and operate a bumblebee’s wing. We can’t jump or run very fast, and we can’t carry vast weights like an ant can. We can’t see in the dark and we can’t fly…. Humans compared to animals are almost totally deaf, and we can’t smell a fart in an elevator by their standards. We are finite and separate, and neurotic, while the consciousness of an animal is at peace and eternal. We strive and go crazy to become more important. Animals rest and sleep and enjoy the company of each other. We think we have evolved upwards from animals but we have lost almost all of their qualities and abilities. The idea that animals don’t have consciousness or that they don’t have a soul is rather crass. It shows a lack of consciousness. They talk, they have families, they feel things, they act individually or together to solve problems, they often care of their young as a tribal unit. They play, they travel, and medicate themselves when they get sick. They cry when others in the herd die, they know about us humans. Of course they have a soul, a very pristine one. We humans are only now attempting with the recent rise in consciousness to achieve the soul that animals have naturally. —Stuart Wilde

TNR Resident at the Ancient Spanish Monastery, Miami

TNR Resident at the Ancient Spanish Monastery

February 14-22 is the 7th Annual Florida Week for the Animals! Help celebrate this wonderful event, and speak up for the innocent and voiceless of our state — this week and every day. It doesn’t take much. We’re currently in the process of TNR’ing (TRAP-NEUTER-RETURN) the abandoned, stray, and feral cats of our neighborhood, much to their chagrin, wink. You can also investigate the links to the right, under “Florida Nature Blogs.” Blogs like janthina images, Walking with Alligators, naturetime, and Our Florida Journal showcase and highlight the plight of Florida’s unique and beautiful creatures. And don’t forget to check out FLA Week for the Animal’s constantly growing Calendar of Events to see what’s happening throughout the state. From the lovely Michelle at Florida Week for the Animals:

Rescued Florida Panther at Flamingo Gardens: Sadly, this guy can’t be returned to the wild, because he underwent a painful de-clawing procedure at the hands of humans

Rescued Florida Panther at Flamingo Gardens: Sadly, this guy can’t be returned to the wild, because he underwent a painful de-clawing procedure at the hands of humans

7th Annual Florida Week for the Animals Coming February 14-22, 2015!

(Tampa, FL) The 7th Annual Florida Week for the Animals will be celebrated from February 14-22, 2015! During the extraordinary governor-proclaimed week, animal shelters, rescue groups, educational institutions and humane organizations across the state will be hosting over 100 wonderful animal-related special events that will be saving lives, building relationships, helping animals and strengthening communities. Educators, students, businesses and caring citizens across the state will be joining in to celebrate and help animals.

Events in the spotlight will include pet adoption events, low cost spay/neuter & vaccination events, Valentine’s Day pet promotions, Volunteer days at Jungle Friends Primate Sanctuary, Husky Olympics. thank you to Eglin Air Force handlers and K-9’s, Cat Depot’s ‘Love Me Tender’ gala, Boxer Friends Dog Bowl, displays and R.E.A.D. dog programs in libraries, Doxie Derby, Pucker Up for Puppies, Wetlands festivals, Veg events, SF Siberian Rescue of FL Painting for Pups, Mardi Gras in the Park, Museum events, Tree donations/sale to citizens for upcoming Arbor Day, children’s book donations, horse adoption/help with supplies events, pet food donations, Manatee activities for the family, farm animal sanctuary events, wildlife center activities and therapy animals visiting hospitals and living-assisted homes.

Also to be included are search & rescue orgs, vegetarian and vegan meetups, parrot education classes, low cost clinics, puppy & dog training, educational events and fun-filled activities for families to enjoy friendship, food, music on behalf of the always amazing animals. There is more being planned!

Precious lives will be saved and exciting new relationships will be built in communities during the exciting week. For more info please call 901-791-2455 or visit http://www.floridaanimals.org/; Email michellebuckalew@comcast.net.

Alligator Pair in the Everglades, Florida

Alligator Pair in the Everglades, Florida

A sweet, dozing cormorant in the Florida Wetlands

Gopher Tortoise in His Burrow

Gopher Tortoise in his Burrow: One of the oldest living species, and now listed as threatened in Florida

Preserving our Future: World Wetlands Day 2015

World Wetlands Day PosterA million HELLOS to the blogging community!

And happy early World Wetlands DayIt’s hard not to be passionate about the celebration of such an event, since all of what you see here — the unique landscapes and its wonderful critters — are dependent on wetland ecosystems. Officially February 2, World Wetlands Day is an international celebration of the planet’s marshes, swamps, and bogs. It marks the anniversary of the signing of the Convention on Wetlands, called the Ramsar Convention, on February 2, 1971 in the Iranian city of Ramsar. World Wetlands Day was first celebrated in 1997, and since then government agencies, non-governmental organizations, and citizens all over the world have aimed to raise public awareness of the critical value and intrinsic benefits of wetland ecosystems.

World Wetlands Day 2015 LogoDespite the growing awareness of this unique ecosystem, there are sobering threats facing the survival of our wetlands:

    • A 2011 federal study estimated the U.S. lost 62,300 acres of wetlands between 2004-2009 — a loss rate 140% higher than from 1998-2004
    • Wetland habitat has now been cut within the contiguous U.S. to 110 million acres…. And those surviving wetlands face dangers like hypoxia due to water pollution and invasive species. Pythons and melaleuca in the Everglades (among a host of other destructive non-native species), and nutria in New Orleans continue to ravage the structure of this ecosystem
    • Wetlands are extremely sensitive, and are counted as one of the most vulnerable ecosystems subject to climate change
    • Wetlands residents have suffered terribly due to increased habitat loss

      Preserving the future of the wetlands of our world: Mother and baby Great Blue Heron in the Florida wetlands

      Preserving the future of the wetlands of our world: Mother and baby Great Blue Heron in the Florida wetlands

From the Ramsar website:

Wetlands InfographicTHE FUTURE OF HUMANITY DEPENDS ON WETLANDS

They purify and replenish our water, and provide the fish and rice that feed billions. Wetlands act as a natural sponge against flooding and drought, and protect our coastlines. They burst with biodiversity, and are a vital means of storing carbon. Unfortunately, these benefits are not widely known. Often viewed as wasteland, 64% of our wetlands have disappeared since 1900.

Help us turn the tide on the loss and degradation of our wetlands. Join us for World Wetlands Day 2015 – and beyond! Here’s how you can get involved: #WorldWetlandsDay #WetlandsForOurFuture

 

There’s much that can be done to restore and protect this vital habitat — check out your local resources, visit your neighboring natural areas, and above else, LOVE YOUR WETLANDS and their amazing inhabitants!

For more information and wonderful educational and marketing materials, visit World Wetlands Day 2015, and on Facebook: RamsarConventionOnWetlands

The lush Florida wetlands — a treasure to conserve

The lush Florida wetlands — a treasure to conserve

Protecting the Prince

Here’s some simple advice: Always be yourself. Never take yourself too seriously. And beware of advice from experts, pigs and members of Parliament. -Kermit the Frog

I missed National Frog Month (APRIL, by the by), but no worries. It doesn’t diminish my excitement (squeal!) when I see these lovelies, and I still spend a ridiculous amount of time snapping them. Like this little guy, who was posing next to his bronzed brethren in a pond fountain….

[Click on photos to enlarge]

Green Frog Enjoying the Pond, Atlanta Botanical Gardens, Atlanta, Georgia

Such a look. I giggle every time I look at him….

Green Frog Enjoying the Pond, Atlanta Botanical Gardens, Atlanta, Georgia

What beautiful eyes you have, my lovely

Frogs are amphibians, which comes from the Greek meaning “both lives.” Below are a few fun facts on these fascinating creatures, those that live in water and on land.

Frogs continue to be seen as an indicator species, providing scientists with valuable insight into how an ecosystem is functioning. Because they are both predators and prey, many animals are affected by them — giving further insight into the health of the ecosystem. There are over 6,000 species of frogs worldwide. Scientists continue to search for new ones…. Unfortunately, about 120 amphibian species, including frogs, toads and salamanders, have disappeared since 1980. Historically, one species of amphibian would disappear every 250 years. A powerful case for conserving and nurturing their (and our) environments. Our adorable little Southern green tree frogs took up residence in unused and abandoned birdhouses, and I happily accommodated them by adding more (and of course, never using pesticides) — anything to help their dwindling populations.

* ~ *  Fun and Fascinating Frogs * ~ *

    • Frogs have roamed the Earth for more than 200 million years — at least as long as the dinosaurs.
    • They were the first land animals with vocal cords. Male frogs have vocal sacs — pouches of skin that fill with air. They resonate sounds like a megaphone, and some sounds can be heard from a mile away.
    • Ida Rentoul Outhwaite - "I Am Kexy, Friend to Fairies"; The Fairy - The Little Green Road to Fairyland, 1922

      Ida Rentoul Outhwaite: “I Am Kexy, Friend to Fairies”; The Fairy – The Little Green Road to Fairyland, 1922

      Toads are frogs. The word toad is usually used for frogs that have warty and dry skin, as well as shorter hind legs.

    • The world’s largest frog is the goliath frog of West Africa, which can grow to 15 inches and weigh up to 7 pounds. Think of a newborn human baby….
    • The smallest frogs are from Papua New Guinea, measuring in at only 9 mm in length.
    • While the life spans of frogs in the wild are unknown, frogs in captivity have been known to live up to 30 years.
    • A group of frogs is called an army.
    • Most frogs have teeth, although usually only on their upper jaw. The teeth are used to hold prey in place until the frog can swallow it.
    • Launched by their long legs, many frogs can leap more than 20 times their body length.
    • Frogs blink as they swallow their prey, thereby pushing their eyeballs down on top of the mouth to help push food down their throats.
Ida Rentoul Outhwaite, The Jazz Band, 1921

Ida Rentoul Outhwaite: The Jazz Band, 1921

  • A frog completely sheds its skin about once a week — at which point the frog usually eats it.
  • The wood frog is the only frog found north of the Arctic Circle, surviving for weeks with 65% of its body frozen. It uses glucose in its blood as a type of antifreeze that concentrates in its vital organs, protecting them from damage.
  • The Australian water-holding frog is a desert dweller that can wait up to seven years for rain. It burrows underground and surrounds itself in a cocoon made of its own shed skin.
  • One gram of the toxin produced by the skin of the golden poison dart frog could kill 100,000 people.
  • The female Surinam toad lays up to 100 eggs, which are then spread over her back. Her skin swells around the eggs, protecting them. After 12-20 weeks, fully formed young toads emerge by pushing out through the membrane covering the toad’s back.
  • When Darwin’s frog tadpoles hatch, a male frog swallows them. He keeps the tiny amphibians in his vocal sac for about 60 days, while they grow — coughing them up when they grow as tiny, fully formed frogs.
  • The glass frog has translucent skin, so you can see its internal organs, bones, and muscles — even its beating heart and digesting food.
  • A frog in Indonesia has no lungs — it breathes entirely through its skin.
Green Frog Enjoying the Pond, Atlanta Botanical Gardens, Atlanta, Georgia

In the flesh and in bronze: both so lovely

Frog Infographic

Save the Frogs!

Save the Frogs!

For more info:

If Frogs Go Extinct....

We don’t want frogs to disappear! No! Courtesy of Vancouver Aquarium

The Day the Sun Stood Still

A wee bit late of June 21, the formal date of the summer solstice — celebrated throughout human history as an astronomical turning point, when daylight reigns supreme. The word solstice is derived from the Latin solstitium, from sol (sun) and stitium (to stand still), because it appears as though the sun actually stops during the solstice. For a few days after the solstice, the sun rises and sets at its northernmost point on the horizon, before slowly migrating southward again for the next six months.

From the midsummer festivals with bonfires and feasts, to the festival of St. John the Baptist, to Kupala Night and more, may your days of worshiping the sun be filled with blessings!

PAn with Dragonfly

The harbinger of good times: Pan with a companion dragonfly

Go Hug a Tree — It’s Arbor Day!

I was just sittin’ here enjoyin’ the company. Plants got a lot to say, if you take the time to listen. -Eeyore

* * *

A tree says: My strength is trust. I know nothing about my fathers, I know nothing about the thousand children that every year spring out of me. I live out the secret of my seed to the very end, and I care for nothing else. I trust that God is in me. I trust that my labor is holy. Out of this trust I live. -Hermann Hesse

* * *

Trees are the earth’s endless effort to speak to the listening heaven. -Rabindranath Tagore

* * *

Look at the trees, look at the birds, look at the clouds, look at the stars… and if you have eyes you will be able to see that the whole existence is joyful. Everything is simply happy. Trees are happy for no reason; they are not going to become prime ministers or presidents and they are not going to become rich and they will never have any bank balance. Look at the flowers — for no reason. It is simply unbelievable how happy flowers are. -Osho

Untouched Cypress Swamp on the Florida Trail Extension near Jonathan Dickinson State Park (OFF-TRAIL!)

Loving the trees in rare untouched cypress swamp

It’s Arbor Day! And despite a wee bit of life’s chaos, I couldn’t neglect our most amazing, most magnificent creatures. As caretakers of this beautiful sphere, it remains our utmost responsibility to honor, safeguard, and protect these living entities. Upwards of 5,000 years old, they’ve borne witness to the rise and fall of entire civilizations. R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Plant a tree…Recycle…Go paperless…Follow conservation groups diligently working to protect these lovely, ancient living citadels. Or just show one some love and respect, and give it a nice hugggggg. :)

 

Cypress trees in the swamp, Florida Everglades

The always lovely cypress trees in the Everglades

A new trail....

A new trail….

Slash Pine Close-up

Slash pine close-up

Pine flatwoods vista

Pine flatwoods vista

Oak Trees of the Florida Trail, Jonathan Dickinson

The Gentlemen Oaks of the Florida Trail

Sunset tree

Sunset vista

Lovely cypress in winter

The fascinating cypress in winter

Looking up into the canopy of the hardwood swamp

The canopy of a hardwood swamp

Everyone loves trees!

Everyone loves trees!

Heart Tree, Fern Forest Nature Center, Broward County, Florida

Heart Tree!

It’s National Wildlife Week: March 17-23

It’s National Wildlife Week!

[Click on images for greater clarity]

Marsh Rabbit Baby, Florida Wetlands

The ridiculously adorable marsh rabbit baby in the Florida wetlands — or as I call them, swamp bunnies

Founded by the National Wildlife Federation, National Wildlife Week is the organization’s “longest-running education program designed around teaching and connecting kids to the awesome wonders of wildlife.” The theme of 2014 — Wildlife and Water — is an effort to “provide fun and informative educational materials, curriculum and activities for educators and caregivers to use with kids.”

Sunning Alligator, Florida Everglades

A cuddly and lazy sunning alligator in the northern section of the Florida Everglades

Living on the edge / vestiges of the magnificent Everglades, the theme of Wildlife and Water is perfection. From the marshes and swamps, to the ‘glades, to the lakes and rivers and open ocean, the opportunities to explore the wonders and beauties of our unique wildlife are endless in South Florida.

Great Egret, Everglades, Florida

A regal great egret rests against the setting sun in the waters of the northern Florida Everglades

Visit their site to learn more, spread the word, and further the conservation efforts of these wonders.

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